The legislative quest for a safe-slopes act in the N.C. General Assembly was renewed with the filing of HB 782 last week by WNC Rep. Ray Rapp. He was backed by two more area legislators, Reps. Susan Fisher and Phil Haire. Rapp, who lives in Madison County, has attempted to move slope-safety regulation in the past session, but his bill was stalled in committee as it was opposed by the North Carolina Home Builders Association and the North Carolina Association of Realtors, according to Rapp (see “The Green Scene: Finding Stable Ground,” Xpress, Feb. 4, 2009).
The assortment of other bills introduced in the past week ran the gamut from HB 795, exempting National Guard members from tuition at the state’s community colleges (for courses required for their National Guard duty), to HB 842, a Consumer Health Freedom Act designed to provide access to complementary and alternative medical services not covered under N.C. licensing. Buncombe County Rep. Susan Fisher was co-sponsor of both bills.
In the Senate, SB 918 was filed to increase limits on small breweries before wholesale distribution is required, with WNC’s Sen. Joe Sam Queen of co-sponsoring. Sens. Tom Apodaca, John Snow and Queen filed SB 915 to repeal state authorization for all counties to opt for a land-transfer tax. These and other bills of interest to WNC legislators and citizens are summarized below.
HB 782 – Safe Artificial Slope Construction Act: Requires local governments to regulate site planning, design, and construction of artificial slopes in mountainous areas to promote safe and stable slopes for development, reduce the likelihood of slope failures and protect human safety and property. The bill also directs the Sedimentation Control Commission to assist local governments in implementing safe slope construction programs and develop a model ordinance; and provides for disclosure of information to purchasers of properties located in certain areas designated on stability index maps. Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. Reps. Ray Rapp of Haywood/Madison/Yancey counties, Susan Fisher of Buncome, and Phil Haire of Haywood/Jackson/Macon/Swain, primary sponsors.
HB 795 – No Community College Tuition/National Guard Training: Exempts members of the North Carolina National Guard from paying for courses that are required for the performance of their duties as National Guard members. Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Homeland Security, Military and Veterans Affairs. Fisher, co-sponsor.
HB 798 – Annexation/County Commissioner Approval: Requires majority-vote approval of all boards of county commissioners representing an area affected by involuntary annexation before the annexation becomes effective. Passed first reading; referred to Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations.
HB 838 – Create Exemption/Size-Weight for Sage Haulers: (Companion bill, SB 654.) Filed. Gives sage haulers the exemption for hauling on light-traffic roads currently given to trucks transporting unprocessed cotton from farm to gin. (Companion bill, SB 654.) Filed.
HB 842 – Consumer Health Freedom Act: Provides for access to complementary or alternative health-care services by removing certain restrictions for practitioners not subject to medical licensing laws. Services include acupressure, traditional healing, herbology, homeopathy, naturopathy, cranal sacral therapy, Native American medicine and more. Establishes disclosure requirements for such practitioners. Filed. Fisher, co-sponsor.
HB 853 – Workforce Training for Economic Recovery: Transfers 50 percent of the annual installment payment to the North Carolina L.E.A.F. (Long-Term Economic Advancement Foundation) to a restricted Settlement Reserve Fund, to enable community colleges to use modern equipment in training workers for North Carolina jobs. (Companion bill, SB 592. Referred to Education/Higher Education. Sen. John Snow of Cherokee/Clay/Graham/Haywood/Jackson/Macon/Swain/Transylvania, co-sponsor.)
SB 695 – Restraining of Dogs: Amends current criminal law to make it a Class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly restrain a dog using a chain or wire or other type of tethering device for more than three hours in a 24-hour period. (See HB 626.) Referred to Committee on Judiciary I.
SB 915 – Repeal County Land Transfer Tax: Repeals the authorization for all counties to levy a four-tenths percent local land transfer tax. Filed; referred to Committee on Finance. Sen. Tom Apodaca of Buncombe/Henderson/Polk, Joe Sam Queen of Avery/Haywood/Madison/McDowell/Mitchell/Yancey, Snow, co-sponsors.
SB 918 – Increase Small Brewery Limits: Increases small brewery limit from 25,000 gallons to 60,000 gallons before the brewery must use a wholesale distributor to distribute its products. Filed; referred to Committee on Commerce. Queen, co-sponsor.
SB 928 – The Castle Doctrine: An act clarifying when a person may use defensive force to protect against unlawful or forcible entry into the person’s dwelling, prevent removal of a person against his or her will from that dwelling, provide that a person in a place where the person has a right to be has no duty to retreat, and establish that defensive force in these circumstances is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force. Filed; referred to Committee on Judiciary II. Sen. Doug Berger of Franklin/Granville/Vance/Warren, primary sponsor; Apodaca, Snow, co-sponsors.
— Nelda Holder, associate editor
Editor’s note: The dogwood (illustrated here) is the state flower of North Carolina.